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In Their Own Words

June 04, 1739

Difficult Lives of German Servants

In addition to the Salzburgers at Ebenezer, there were a number of Germans living in and around Savannah who had came to Georgia to work as servants. On a number of occasions in his journal, Lutheran minister Johann Martin Boltzius noted the difficult life that the German servants faced, as with this day’s entry:

“The children are not permitted by their masters to attend school, and the schoolmaster who lives among them also is not permitted to use even a few hours of his time for the children. Instead, he must work like the other servants. So that they may not grow up entirely ignorant, some of the parents intend to instruct them as much as they can from the books they have received.

“Some of the people who live out on the plantations are encountering difficulties in coming into town to attend church when we come to Savannah on their behalf. If Mr. Oglethorpe were told this, he would surely not be pleased. The people also complain much to us how ill they fare in regard to their food, clothing, and conditions of work; and, since there are a number of honest souls among them who are eager for the good, I have much sympathy for them and would like to help through my intercession, if only something could be done. In the meantime I shall do what I can once I return to Savannah and see Mr. Oglethorpe.”

Source: George Fenwick Jones and Don Savelle (trans. and ed.), Detail Reports on the Salzburger Emigrants Who Settled in America … Edited by Samuel Urlsperger: Volume Six, 1739 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1981), p. 108.